Review for the Art in the Streets Exhibit at MOCA

I had the privilege of visiting the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s Exhibit on Art in the Streets. More information here.

I have not done a whole lot of reviews of Hip Hop, aside from the Music. I did think this might be appropriate.

I had gone with the impression that Art in the Streets would primarily be about Street Graffiti Art. Some people might find the phrase Graffiti Art offensive for a number of reasons, and I did not want to deal with all of that here. It goes without saying, as a former street graffiti vandalist, I do not condone vandalism. However, you can observe and analyse the art form which has been pivotal in hip hop culture, and this might be an easier way to do it within a 2-3 hour time frame.

I wanted to see the art form chronicled in the past forty years, as well as see some original murals exclusively painted for the exhibit. I had expected those things. Though, not considering myself Vato Loco, by any stretch, I imagined I might see some Low Rider Art as well.

Graffiti Artist Risk has two of the best exhibits, including a decked out bus just outside of the Gallery. His indoor mural nearly took up the whole south wall, and was an impressive work of creativity in letterwork, dimensions, style, and color.

Graffiti Art is popping up in and around buildings all over major California cities, and its all legal. However, to get a sense of the origins, and the dangers, it may have lost some edge being in a prim and proper artsy fartsy place like the MOCA. Two galleries were set up to bring the Street to the Museum, as well as a few recreations of the first Gallery style exhibits of Street Art. By no means a highlight of aesthetic achievement in itself, it achieved the import of essential character.

One piece by the notoriously popular Banksy was remarkable. It had two emaciated African children scavenging for food scraps in the desert. One of the kids wore an American shirt that stated “I Hate Mondays.” It had a clear and deep message of American, or perhaps Western shallowness in the midst of a world that suffers.

The personal disappointments came with exhibits by street photographers, and several street poster designers. Some of them were slightly boring, if not too straightforward for me.

If you find hip hop music and culture an aberation to your values, by all means avoid it, I am not inviting debate on this issue here. I, however, recommend it for fans as well as all those willing to learn and expand their knowledge of art mediums.


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